List of Reference Level, High Sensitivity & SPL Speakers - Page 31 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #901 of 948 Old 02-02-2015, 04:29 PM
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I use all sine sweeps for the whole range. I just base it off how I set my levels compared to each other. Basically after EQing flat adjust the volume to level match and the more sensitive speaker is always turned down more. My dual stacked DR's needed to be turned down the most, followed by the big JBL's and the rest of the JBL's. The JTR's were equal to the SEOS I owned and the eD cinema 12's were slightly more sensitive. I always use the same amps and pre/pro for a pair of speakers or however many I have at the time.
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post #902 of 948 Old 02-02-2015, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post
I use all sine sweeps for the whole range. I just base it off how I set my levels compared to each other. Basically after EQing flat adjust the volume to level match and the more sensitive speaker is always turned down more. My dual stacked DR's needed to be turned down the most, followed by the big JBL's and the rest of the JBL's. The JTR's were equal to the SEOS I owned and the eD cinema 12's were slightly more sensitive. I always use the same amps and pre/pro for a pair of speakers or however many I have at the time.
Maybe we can find some reviews or measurements to explain the difference. Then I'd set jbl higher or jtr lower.
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post #903 of 948 Old 02-02-2015, 04:57 PM
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Do you think a pair of 8's at 98 dBs can play louder than a pair of 15 inch 2226's that are 100 dBs sensitive?
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post #904 of 948 Old 02-03-2015, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post
Do you think a pair of 8's at 98 dBs can play louder than a pair of 15 inch 2226's that are 100 dBs sensitive?
Well, the woofers themselves are not necessarily 98 or 100. The loudspeaker as a whole is. I read the 2035H woofer in the JBL 4675 is 98dB sensitivity.
But I see your point that at least in terms of surface area, the JBL is more than twice the area. That doesn't take into account excursion. If the JTR used drivers with twice the excursion, it'd even the playing field.

And the JBL becomes a 97dB for the purposes of comparison. It's a 4ohm speaker. It'll draw twice as many watts for given voltage than an 8ohm speaker. The JBL spec is for 2 watts, not 1 watt. At 1w, it's 3dB less, or 97dB.
The JTR Triple 8, while also a 4ohm speaker, was spec'd at 1w, 2.0v.

Note too that the JBL sensitivity

EDIT: Just looked at the JBL 4675c spec sheet again, and something is off. They actually say, "100dB 1w (2.83v)", and it's 4ohms. One of those numbers has to be wrong, correct? Which one is wrong? To be in line with MKtheater, it'd be the "2.83v" number that's in error, and they actually meant 2.0v.

I'm really not making this stuff up. I'm using what the manufacturer puts out. When it's blatantly fictitious, as many of the Klipsch, and confirmed in reviews, I pad it down.

In this case, it looks like JBL goofed up the spec sheet?
Thoughts?
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post #905 of 948 Old 02-03-2015, 10:47 AM
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I know you are doing your best and doing a great job. More than most. I am just saying the specs are not always accurate. The SEOS is a 97-98 dBs 8 ohm speaker I think, the Triple 8 is a 98 dB 4 ohm speaker. In my room they used the same power to reach the same level. The JBL speaker needed to be turned way down, like 3-4 dBs. The DR's even more so. That is all. Either of them can play reference effortless from 14 feet away.
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post #906 of 948 Old 02-03-2015, 11:29 AM
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Are the Klipsch RF7IIs on the list..I did not notice them.

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post #907 of 948 Old 02-03-2015, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post
The SEOS is a 97-98 dBs 8 ohm speaker I think, the Triple 8 is a 98 dB 4 ohm speaker. In my room they used the same power to reach the same level.
Just for clarity's sake, do you mean the same power or do you mean the same gain level?

Which SEOS based speaker is this? And since the T8 isn't listed on JTR's site anymore, I can't look up its specs. Was it 98dB/2.83V 1m or 98dB/1W 1m (or something else)?
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post #908 of 948 Old 02-03-2015, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pitviper33 View Post
Just for clarity's sake, do you mean the same power or do you mean the same gain level?

Which SEOS based speaker is this? And since the T8 isn't listed on JTR's site anymore, I can't look up its specs. Was it 98dB/2.83V 1m or 98dB/1W 1m (or something else)?
I used archive.org, Wayback machine, to look up the T8 specs. It was 4 ohm, 2v. That translates to 1w.

I think MKtheater means that when running setup, the JBLs were reduced to achieve the 75dB calibration level.

One other point: Even one 15" would suggest greater sensitivity (just going by surface area), but the JBL woofers do some trading of sensitivity for frequency extension down to 40 or 50hz. The JTR didn't extend as low.

But, since the JBL has two woofers, yeah, one would expect more sensitivity in it.

Since it doesn't make sense to be 1w 2.83v and 4ohm, I'm going to call that a mistake on JBL's part and assume they meant 1w 2.0v 4ohm, and I'll correct that JBL and others that have the same typo.

Thanks MKtheater for calling it into question.
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post #909 of 948 Old 02-03-2015, 02:39 PM
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Eyeleron I know that you understand this. And I bet that MKT does too. But there's an important difference between sensitivity and efficiency. I think a lot of confusion can come from carelessly using them interchangeably. It's hard to have a conversation when we aren't all speaking the same language. Heck even somebody at JBL screwed it up on that spec sheet.

In MKT's post that I quoted he said 2 speakers used the same power to get to the same SPL. I suspect he meant to say the same gain to reach the same SPL. That would imply similar sensitivity, but it does not imply similar efficiency. If he actually meant they used the same power, then I'm really curious how he determined so. That's not an easy thing to figure with any method I know.
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post #910 of 948 Old 02-03-2015, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pitviper33 View Post
Just for clarity's sake, do you mean the same power or do you mean the same gain level?

Which SEOS based speaker is this? And since the T8 isn't listed on JTR's site anymore, I can't look up its specs. Was it 98dB/2.83V 1m or 98dB/1W 1m (or something else)?

SEOS fusion pure 10. I mean gain level and the same amps. Of course the 4 ohm speaker would need more power but we are talking the sensitivity of the speaker.

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post #911 of 948 Old 02-13-2015, 06:16 PM
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Question receiver matching speaker helpful advice will be appreciated

i have a pioneer Receiver model vsx 824k it has a power rating 80 watts rms per channel at 8 ohms was wondering if these speakers would be ok for my amp """klipsch reference
model r-15m"" they have 85 watt rms and is 340 peak power at 8 ohms would this pair of book shelf speaker hurt my amp in the long run or would this be okay dont really play very loud music since i live in a condo thanks?
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post #912 of 948 Old 02-13-2015, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post
Thanks for the recommendation.

I did look up that speaker over the weekend, and I found your thread about it. Not a whole lot in a Google search.

Ironically, you didn't talk a whole lot about it, and you swapped them out for JBL Cinema speakers? Then the thread mostly talked about them. I made a note of MRX stage speakers too.

Are the AE speakers still available in the used market?
I have the AM 5215's and am quite pleased with them. They always pop up on ebay and guitar centers used gear site. I got mine for under $400 each.
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post #913 of 948 Old 02-14-2015, 11:54 AM
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For very high efficiency speakers there are some amp options to consider. I have been investigating these quite thoroughly since there are not a lot of great options in solid-state amps (sufficiently good S/N Ratio)

1. Pass Labs XA30.8 (very good, warm sound)
2. Benchmark AHB2 (outlandish S/N numbers and distortion figures, brand new so limited reviews)
3. NAD M22 or M27 (very good but the S/N stats are not as good as the base hypex modules that this is made with).
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post #914 of 948 Old 02-14-2015, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Good stuff! I noticed my previous Pioneer was hissy with 98dB speakers.

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post #915 of 948 Old 02-14-2015, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve_211 View Post
i have a pioneer Receiver model vsx 824k it has a power rating 80 watts rms per channel at 8 ohms was wondering if these speakers would be ok for my amp """klipsch reference
model r-15m"" they have 85 watt rms and is 340 peak power at 8 ohms would this pair of book shelf speaker hurt my amp in the long run or would this be okay dont really play very loud music since i live in a condo thanks?
Steve, there's problems at all with that setup. There's no need to worry about "matching" rated power of amps with the power handling spec of speakers. The Pioneer will be called upon for power of perhaps 2 or 3 watts peak at your preferred volumes. The Klipsch's will be fine on that. Hook them up and enjoy!

You should also be running a sub with those speakers to enjoy the majority of the musical spectrum.
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post #916 of 948 Old 02-14-2015, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Tom Danley about Sensitivity & Power Handling

I came across this thread on ProSoundWeb about the Danley specs. Tom Danley replies: http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index....8.10/wap2.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Danley @ forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,115558.10/wap2.html
Man, you ought to be a loudspeaker manufacturer in the middle of this numbers game.
At the fringes we have floor monitors that have a claimed peak SPL of 148dB and mainstream well known self powered boxes who’s power amps measure about 1/6 of what is claimed and who’s peak SPL falls 12 dB or more short of what is claimed.
...
Here is an overview of the problem;
We use the term “Watts” which has an engineering meaning, unfortunately in loudspeakers, the rating “Wattage” has little or no relation to Watts as in work or power.
Look at the impedance of a loudspeaker, it is not entirely resistive, it is reactive most of the time so the power delivered is even less than the measured Volts times Amps.
What one see’s is the power delivered changes with frequency even though the measured SPL out may be constant.

When the industry made the switch to pentode and then solid state amplifiers, the output of an amplifier became a low impedance Voltage referenced system, that is the “perfect” amplifier has a fixed gain of say 100 so if you put in 1/10 Volt, the amplifier puts out 10Volts and puts out that same 10 volts into a 1Kohm load, a 10 Ohm load or a 1 Ohm load etc.

I am not sure why so many speakers do not have response curves, either they detract from “the numbers” or they are unable to take them, don’t know.
...
Anyway, we take the calculated RMS level and add 3 dB and stick a fork in it.

Reality is, even for our stuff, that for a given driver, it’s parameters begin to change when you have reached about 1/10 to 1/8 rated power thermally.
Speakers, especially full range systems have a maximum usable loudness, above this they still may perform without smoking but sound musically more like cutting a sheet of aluminum on a table saw.
For our full range speakers the solution has been to have the lab that does the spherical data to measure the power handling (actually voltage).
Pat Brown feeds the speaker a noise spectrum that increases every 5 min, here the “maximum usable level” is defined as the voltage where any part of the response shape deviates by 3dB compared to the 1Watt level.
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post #917 of 948 Old 03-02-2015, 07:00 AM
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The new Klipsch Reference Premier available today for purchase on the Klipsch website:

http://www.klipsch.com/rp-280f/details

Advertised 98 dB sensitivity.

Bookshelves (RP-160m) advertised at a 95 dB sensitivity.

Center (RP-450C) advertised at a 97 dB sensitivity.

Apologies if already posted --

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post #918 of 948 Old 03-02-2015, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgtighe23 View Post
The new Klipsch Reference Premier available today for purchase on the Klipsch website:
As typical, they're measuring sensitivity at of the tweeter or at least a range that neglects the mid-bass. They can't have extension into subwoofer range AND be 98dB sensitive AND have just two 8" woofers.
I'd trust their number if the extension was to, say, 60Hz, or if they used a 15" woofer that was big enough to extend low and be sensitive too (which would be ~75% more surface area than two 8").

So it's probably over-stated by 4dB or more.

Last edited by Eyleron; 03-02-2015 at 08:00 AM. Reason: added note about woofer big enough to keep cake and eat it too. Hoffman's Iron Law!
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post #919 of 948 Old 03-02-2015, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post
As typical, they're measuring sensitivity at of the tweeter or at least a range that neglects the mid-bass. They can't have extension into subwoofer range AND be 98dB sensitive AND have just two 8" woofers.**
I'd trust their number if the extension was to, say, 60Hz, or if they used a 15" woofer that was big enough to extend low and be sensitive too (which would be ~75% more surface area than two 8").

So it's probably over-stated by 4dB or more.
Interesting response. It seems like they do account for some midrange because they sensitivity number varies directly with driver size. The center has the lowest sensitivity, smallest driver. The towers have the largest drivers, highest sensitivity.

I'll wait for other notable reviewers to measure the actual sensitivity they got instead.

**Why not? Does physics state that this is impossible or is that your opinion stated in a form of a fact?

Wouldn't that mean every other speaker that was measured @ 1 watt/meter is "probably over-stated by 4dB or more"?

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post #920 of 948 Old 03-02-2015, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgtighe23 View Post
Interesting response.
Yeah, well they get more focus on the "bending the truth" because they get so much attention as "high sensitivity speakers."

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgtighe23 View Post
I'll wait for other notable reviewers to measure the actual sensitivity they got instead.
From what I've seen, like this review of the RF-83 (Klipsch specs as 100dB) that they measure as 94dB (http://www.soundandvision.com/conten...-labs-measures), it's across the board on their consumer speakers. Here's the RF-7: Klipsch RF7 II Measurements. Here's one from the Icon series, measuring with a low impedance dip that suggests the speaker really should be a 6ohm and not 8ohm nominal impedance: http://www.audioholics.com/tower-spe...d-measurements

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgtighe23 View Post
**Why not? Does physics state that this is impossible or is that your opinion stated in a form of a fact?
Physics. Hoffman's Iron Law. Small size, lower frequency extension, or higher sensitivity: pick any two. Here's a quote from Salk Sound: "The reality is that although there are ways around it (if you are willing to accept the trade-offs), Hoffman’s Iron Law will basically stand between you and a high sensitivity speaker in a small cabinet with deep bass response." (http://www.salksound.com/wp/?p=56)

Klipsch wants you to think its speakers are super sensitive across the entire frequency band, whereas it's really the treble bands that are extra sensitive (compression driver and a horn will do that).

Here's a review of the Heresy in classic line, which I hear is more trustworthy: http://www.theabsolutesound.com/arti...i-loudspeaker/
Even here, the reviewer mentions that the speaker should be rated as a 6ohm speaker. 6ohms would draw 50% more power than an 8ohm at that frequency. A 4ohm dip would draw 100% (double) the watts than the frequencies at 8ohm. So when the sensitivity is listed at 8ohms, 2.83v, but really the speaker is a 4ohm or 6ohm, the sensitivity is misleading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgtighe23 View Post
Wouldn't that mean every other speaker that was measured @ 1 watt/meter is "probably over-stated by 4dB or more"?
No, because different companies have different methods for measuring, fudging, reporting, or guessing at their sensitivity.

There's talk about this throughout this thread. Sometimes it's measured in a room, and once I saw it spec'd as TWO speakers at once (for maximum SPL), sometimes it's in a corner. In-room, against a wall, in a corner, will elevate the bass response, yielding higher apparent sensitivity. Makes it hard to compare to other speakers measured on a tower, or mounted in a large baffle, or in a hole in the ground, or in an anechoic chamber, or based on the woofer's sensitivity with some guessed subtraction for power losses through crossover.

It's frustrating, because the manufacturers are catering to two foibles of the consumer:
  • We want to keep our cake and eat it too....or we would like a small speaker that has a big sound. An extreme of this would be Bose.
  • The consumer thinks that "lower frequency extension" = better. Which is silly for most customers that are using subwoofers and should be setting all the speakers to Small with a crossover of 60-100Hz. That fairly useless extension into subwoofer territory comes with a price: loss of sensitivity. Which isn't a problem unless you want to play loud. If you don't need to play loud, you wouldn't care about sensitivity, right?

The reduced sensitivity means it'll take more watts to get the output you may want. That might be more watts than your amp has, and it probably is more watts than your speaker can take and not distort objectionably.

Thus, the consumer says, "It sounds too loud [above X level]!" or "This speaker is grating when I turn it up!" Or "It's a 'bright' speaker" (the bass output falls off at high output but the treble keeps getting louder).

Instead, a manufacturer should be honest: "This speaker is for use with subwoofers, it produces X output at Y distortion." "This speaker is for two-channel without a sub. It extends deeper, and it's less sensitive." and "This speaker is also for without a sub. It plays low, and loud, and it's big."

Last edited by Eyleron; 03-02-2015 at 02:30 PM. Reason: added missing RF-83 review
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post #921 of 948 Old 03-02-2015, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post
Yeah, well they get more focus on the "bending the truth" because they get so much attention as "high sensitivity speakers."

I enjoyed the read.

A simple response could have been concluded by simply stating " ...different companies have different methods for measuring, fudging, reporting, or guessing at their sensitivity." But I liked the elaboration..Very informative.

That's the reason 3rd party reviewers get different sensitivity levels. They are measuring realistically, not finding a way to get the highest sensitivity level to show on paper. Thanks for backing up your point of view, unlike many others here.

I personally don't prefer Klipsch speakers due to there bright tweeters at low volumes. Hopefully this line changes that...

I honestly don't care about low frequency extension on my speakers. They will always be run with subs because I like low volume music with a little more bass; It's not worth it to me to active bi-amp...It's easier just to use subs because you need them anyways for movies.

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post #922 of 948 Old 03-02-2015, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Your questions got me to post some of my own about impedance. Impedance & Sensitivity. I feel like I'm beginning to understand, but I can't reconcile a review that says a speaker should by easy to drive with a cheap amp, when it has low impedance dips that on paper, if one wanted to play loudly, would require more watts than any cheap amp/receiver has on tap. If those are easy to drive, I'd hate to see what a difficult to drive one would be...90 deg phase angle and 1ohm in the bass? Is there such a thing? 1ohm would vs 8 ohms would be 90dB less sensitivity, 10x the power required!
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post #923 of 948 Old 03-02-2015, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Genesis 2.2

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimSatala777 View Post
I just stumbled across this forum and I am shocked that you didn't list any ...Genesis...
I've added the Genesis 2.2. It's a $79,000 per pair set of floorstanding line array speakers.
Eight 8" woofers, a 48" ribbon midrange, and fifteen 1" tweeters! http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/g2p2.html

90dB sensitivity and 1000w power handling.

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post #924 of 948 Old 03-04-2015, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post
I've added the Genesis 2.2. It's a $79,000 per pair set of floorstanding line array speakers.
Eight 8" woofers, a 48" ribbon midrange, and fifteen 1" tweeters! http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/g2p2.html

90dB sensitivity and 1000w power handling.
Your chart is showing the same loss of volume at 12' with the line source as regular speakers. The Genesis website says:
Quote:
A third important advantage of a line source is that it attenuates at -3dB with a doubling of distance whereas a point source attenuates at -6dB with a doubling of distance.

For example, for a loudspeaker of average efficiency, say 90dB/watt at 1m, the efficiency of the speaker will be 84dB/watt at 2m for the point source, and 87dB/watt at 2m for the line source (twice as efficient). At 4m, the corresponding efficiencies are 78dB/watt and 84dB/watt, or 4 times more efficient. At 8m, the point source will be 72dB/watt and 81dB/watt. The line source advantage grows logarithmically with larger distances.
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post #925 of 948 Old 03-04-2015, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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^ Good point! I suppose that requires some column that if line source, modify the db distance calcs.

SEOS Fusion 10 Max, SVS PB10 and DIY SI18 subs, Denon X4000, Epson 8500 & 2.35:1 AT Screen
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post #926 of 948 Old 03-06-2015, 07:45 PM
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I don't know if anyone mentioned the JBL CF-150. Its sensitivity rating is 98db 1 watt/1 meter. They can handle 325 watts and have a 15" woofer in them and rated down to 32HZ. It doesn't take a lot of power to drive them. My wife's stereo is an Onkyo 50 watt per channel amp and drives them pretty well. These were produced in the earily to mid 1990's and pop up on eBay every once in a great while but are usually pretty affordable. However, the tweeters are the weak link in these speakers. A good number of them have had the tweeters replaced by an aftermarket one as OEM tweeters have long been obsoleted.
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post #927 of 948 Old 03-14-2015, 05:36 AM
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This is a fantastic thread! Somehow I realize I often miss the sticky's at this forum. This is the first time I've seen this thread.


Looks like you reference the Mackie C200 back in 2012.


There are more specs you can update your spreadsheet with if you like.


http://www.mackie.com/products/c200/


I am very pleased with the Mackie C200 I own for my cinema room. I bought 9 of them for only $129 shipped each at an Adorama.com sale, but you can pick them up for only $170 shipped most any holiday with a 15% off coupon from some of the online music stores. They are capable of true reference level playback at my seating position using only a 150 watt per channel flagship AVR by my calculation. I don't know of many speakers that can come close to that price/performance - even at normal street price of $200 they represent a stellar value for someone seeking a high efficiency dynamic speaker. With Audyssey XT32 applied I think they should as good as speakers costing many times more, as Audyssey helps flatten out their frequency response to a level that the more expensive speakers approach out of the box. I personally know they sound better than the eD cinema 12 after owning those speakers, and while not quite as capable of extreme volumes as the JTR 228HT I owned (or as clean above reference levels), the Mackie C200 were indistinguishable to me, in my room, inside my baffle wall when blind tested at -5dB on songs I thought for sure I could tell the difference when sighted listening occurred. Outside the baffle wall I liked the JTR 228HT slightly better - but in the baffle wall, in my room until above reference volumes they were indistinguishable to my ears.
I organized the list by price and the only thing that seemed to be in the same ballpark at their normal street price was the Carvin PM10, which has a crossover at 3KHz which is higher (less desirable) than the 1.8KHz of the C200.


Speaker appreciation is subjective I realize, but I fail to see how anyone would be disappointed with a set of Mackie C200's all around for cinema use -- and the price is eyebrow raising.

For someone interested --- here is a thread on the Mackie C200, and some measurements of the speakers, pictures of the drivers, and the crossovers.
Mackie C200 - under the hood



Thanks for managing the thread!

Last edited by Archaea; 03-14-2015 at 06:12 AM.
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post #928 of 948 Old 03-14-2015, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post
This is a fantastic thread! Somehow I realize I often miss the sticky's at this forum. This is the first time I've seen this thread.
Thanks! Well, I missed yours measuring the C200 too. I had seen references to how you surprisingly liked it over the JTR, and I should've reached out then.

Personally, I was looking at the Electrovoice ZX-1, the Mackie C200, and Hsu HB-1 as low-cost mid-to-high sensitivity speakers as cheaper alternatives to the eD, Chase Pro/Sho speakers.
Then DIYSG SEOS speakers kicked into gear and I went that route. I'm glad that someone like you with experience and interest was able to try the C200's and can help us all learn about them and speakers like them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post
Looks like you reference the Mackie C200 back in 2012.
There are more specs you can update your spreadsheet with if you like.
http://www.mackie.com/products/c200/
I appreciate that! It helps a lot when people point out mistakes or anomalies in the spreadsheet, suggest other speakers, or give personal anecdotes and reviews of them.

This morning I read your threads about the C200 and C300, the Behringer 2031A, and the older SVS speakers...good stuff!

Have you seen TheBland's recent journey with Quested speakers and their Air Motion Transformer (a type of ribbon)? He's sold his compression driver-based speakers.

Last edited by Eyleron; 03-14-2015 at 09:37 AM. Reason: Added personal note about C200.
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post #929 of 948 Old 03-14-2015, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Question The Big Picture - questions and thoughts about speaker macrodynamics and the industry

As I'd add what were truly PA speakers, I felt a little dirty because of the comments about how PA speakers in general sound bad, or how a particular speaker was poor-performing.

But I think this discussion is important, because it's a counter-point to what's been prejudiced in our industry/hobby for a long time, and I think is a dirty little secret.
In fact, the more I'd learn and listen (to my own speakers' limited dynamic range, and the improvement after adding 98dB sensitive speakers), the more frustrated and curious I became about it all. I like to ask the big questions, and I've been wrestling with these for years:
  • A: Why are speaker manufacturers pretending all their speakers have a huge big dynamic sound?
  • B: Why do most speaker companies design for low extension in all their models?
  • C: Why do people shop for extension when they're going to be using subwoofers?
  • D: Why don't more people complain about their compressed dynamics? Why don't they try to solve it?
  • E: Why don't people listen louder, such that they'd need the high dynamic capability at high SPL of other speakers?
  • F: Why don't speaker reviewers, who should be the voice of the people and hold manufacturers accountable, talk more about this, show us how the speakers perform at macrodynamics?

Here are my thoughts and what I've seen others say...

A: Speaker Manufacturers Advertise Big Sound in Everything
This is just marketing, and not wanting to admit to any shortcomings in any products. I am attracted to a seller/maker who lays it out with no BS: "These are my products, and this is why you'd want to buy this one over this one. This one is stronger/faster/louder/smoother/prettier/more reliable etc. than this one."

Hoffman's Iron Law: pick any two of: small size, efficiency, or low extension.
I wish companies would design and market their speakers so that were shown to fall into a spectrum (triangle?) of Hoffman's Iron Law. In gaming, this concept of tradeoffs and no free lunch is common. You can have strength but you must sacrifice intelligence, etc. In automobiles, consumer all understand that you can't have a strong heavy powerful car that can tow 15,000 lbs. AND accelerate rapidly with a high max speed. And if you even approached such a product, it certainly wouldn't be affordable. Not a tough concept to get.

Instead, speakers are advertised like "you can have it all!". That's a lie, and it hurts us customers.

B: Why design almost all speakers for low extension?
I think there's a feedback loop, where reviewers and trade publications don't help educate consumers, consumers look for low extension even when they'll use a sub for theater, manufacturers cater to this and aim for 30-50Hz in bookshelves and 25-40Hz in towers.

The situation hasn't been helped by the trend for "lifestyle" speakers that are small and unobtrusive.

Sometimes trends are bad. Like carpet in kitchens and bathrooms... a lot of smart people sold and bought that.

Now, I have zero objections to making, selling, and buying a small speaker that's 84dB sensitive. My issue is that sellers pretend that it'll give you big movie theater / rock concert sound.

I have zero objections to a medium size speaker that extends to 35Hz and can handle 150w. I just think this is a speaker suited for the small room without a sub, or for lower volume listening.

I wish speakers would be designed and marketed along Hoffman's Iron Law.
  • Real small speakers with high (poor) extension and low efficiency: Lifestyle speakers that should be crossed over high with a sub. Don't expect big sound.
  • Smaller cheaper speakers with low extension (digs deep) and low efficiency: Use without a sub, don't expect big sound.
  • Smaller expensive (high power handling) speakers with low extension (digs deep) and low efficiency: Use without a sub, throw a lot of watts at them for higher SPL without distortion.
  • Smaller speakers with poor extension and medium-high efficiency: Use with a sub, get more SPL using just a receiver.
  • Medium-sized speakers with high efficiency and poor extension: I think this is sweet spot for home theater. Use with a sub and a receiver for decent dynamics.
  • Medium-sized speakers with poor efficiency and low extension: These trick consumers the most. Use them without a sub for music or casual TV.
  • Large speakers that do better with efficiency and/or extension: Kick-ass!

C: Why do consumers shop for low extension?
Lack of consumer education and a trickery by manufacturers.

We don't know all that we don't know. If a consumers don't know that they might want higher SPL macrodynamics, how do they know how to shop for it? How do they know that they have to deal with the same compromises as my above auto example. The concept of deep extension is much more understandable than speaker efficiency and distortion.

Contrast this confusing topic with amplifiers, where those products are at least a LITTLE regulated, and enthusiasts look at the frequency range, watts, and distortion at that max output.
Enthusiasts have started to accept that a small subwoofer with a middlin' amp will not provide 17Hz extension and high output to reference levels. But if those people don't know about their main speaker distortion, it's understandable that the average consumer won't understand the tradeoffs either.

D & E: Consumers and Dynamics
You can get big dynamics at any volume level. Dynamics is about contrast. But first you have to get above a noise floor. And high SPL dynamics stimulates in a way that listening at -30 master volume does not, e.g. the mid-bass slam.

I think one problem is that we conflate "too loud" (SPL is too high) with "too loud and became bad" (SPL makes speaker/amp bad).
How can one separate those two, unless they know that distortion is skyrocketing, or they can compare to a system that can play at the same high SPL but cleanly. The latter is usually revelatory for people.
I liken it to driving fast in a old poor car. It's uncomfortable. If that was my only high mph driving experience, I'd tell the world "no one should drive fast, accelerate fast, or drive fast on twisty roads!"
Contrast that to a fine luxury sports car, and the experience is completely different.

So for those that WOULD like to listen at higher SPL, we turn it up until we or our spouses cringe (I hear that women are more sensitive to distortion, so maybe we men should pay more attention to them) and we back off and say, "Any higher than -12 master volume is just stupid loud."

Consumers would be shocked at how much speakers distort at lower level. And how much that distortion skyrockets at higher level.
Peak transients are hard to get ahold of. They're hard to measure, they're harder to discern the distortion in them. As MKTheater says, those unclipped peaks just makes everything sound more "real". It's not just about rockets and gun shots and huge drums, either. Even dishes clattering in the sink can have surprisingly loud brief transients. Most speakers can't even reproduce that accurately.

So if we don't know what we're missing, we won't take measures to correct the situation.

F: Speaker Reviewers and Publications
Stereophile and Sound and Vision and Soundstage have published more measurements than others. Audioholics sometimes does.
It drives me nuts to see a lack of measurements in reviews.
It drives me nuts to see the measurements in Soundstage only take distortion measurements with the speaker at 95dB from 6 feet away. Push the damn speaker! Show me really where it gives up! Show me how it's handling quick peaks. I don't want to drive the speaker to +10 above reference, but when I listen below reference I want those 100dB quick peaks to sound like they're supposed to. Do they sound like they should?

I think it's getting better, what with data-bass.com doing subs, Audioholics using Ricci's data, etc. Software like REW now has burst signals, which some industry experts have advocated as a part of speaker evaluation for years.

Distortion is a tricky thing. Simple THD doesn't tell a complete story. It doesn't reveal types of distortion that might be much more egregious. Other times it makes the speaker look much worse than it is (e.g. even order distortion that just sounds like harmonics and might even be subjectively preferred.

More work needs to be done on intermodulation distortion.

I'm glad I see some of the magazines posting impedance plots. I think this is important, because:
Speakers "lie" about nominal impedance. Somehow the speaker is labelled "8 ohm compatible" but they have a dip to 3 ohms?! Come on. If there's a dip to 3 ohms in mid-bass and the driver will draw more than twice the watts as what you'd think, this is a concern. Is the driver being sent enough watts to make it nonlinear and distort? Is the amp being over-driven?

If we had something more like Ricci's data on main speakers, and good sorting and tabulation of that data, the industry would be moved forward a giant leap.

"More data, less wank!"
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post #930 of 948 Old 03-18-2015, 12:01 PM
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Excellent discussion points Eyleron. I agree with you on every one of them.

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Sometimes trends are bad. Like carpet in kitchens and bathrooms... a lot of smart people sold and bought that.
Ew. I've only seen one carpeted bathroom in my life, in a run down condo in Los Angeles. I've never seen a carpeted kitchen. I'm disappointed to hear that this might have been a trend at some point. I'm glad that it seems to have been eradicated pretty completely before I was old enough to be aware of such things.
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